Last week Four Four Two released a countdown of the top ten goalkeepers in World football and whilst each of the top four Premier League clubs were represented, not one of the selected hailed from these shores.
To be fair to Four Four Two, the list was pretty spot on, but at Sparta HQ we like to celebrate English talent, so here is our top ten countdown of English goalkeepers.
1. Jordan Pickford
No surprises for who takes the number one of number ones. Pickford first caught the eye in a loan move at Preston North End before becoming Sunderland’s number one for the 2016/2017 campaign. Although Sunderland were relegated in the same season, Everton saw fit to shell out £30 million to bring him to Goodison park in what remains to be the highest spend on a British goalkeeper. He has been noted for his brilliant distribution and won the hearts of an entire nation when he saved Carlos Bacca’s penalty in the World Cup Round of 16 and even scored the winning penalty in the summer’s Nations League 3rdPlace Play off against Switzerland.
2. Tom Heaton
Unlike Pickford, Heaton had to ply his trade in the lower leagues before his Premier League move to Burnley in 2014. Although relegated in his first season at Turf Moor, Heaton was impressive and was instrumental in their instant promotion back to the big time and was in fact called up to the England squad in the summer of 2015, just after his club had been relegated. Since moving to Burnley, his rise was meteoric and is rightly regarded as one of the best English goalkeepers around. This summer he made the switch to Villa Park and has made a good start in putting his recent injury troubles behind him.
3. Nick Pope
A former teammate of Heaton’s (see our recent article), Pope’s rise has not been as smooth a terrain as the aforementioned. Released by Ipswich as a youngster, Pope may have doubted he would make it in the professional game, never mind represent his country. After signing for Charlton and establishing himself as a number one at the Valley following several loaning moves, Pope was also snapped up by Burnley. Expected to play second fiddle to Tom Heaton, Pope was thrown into the deep end after a lengthy injury lay off and kept Heaton out of the side, even after the senior keeper returned from injury. Pope was called up to the England squad for last years’ World Cup and is currently keeping Joe Hart out of the squad.
4. Ben Foster
A seriously underrated feature of this post and somewhat of a Premier League stalwart, arguably the most successful of Manchester United’s most recent goalkeeping castoffs. Foster is currently plying his trade with Watford, where he first caught the eye of many in a loan more from United. Having spells with Birmingham and West Brom, albeit suffering relegation with both, Foster has been a pillar of British goalkeepers for years and has proven himself at the top level for over a decade.
5. Angus Gunn
This man is certainly a bright prospect and the main man at Saint Mary’s, is in with an outside chance of making Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros. At the back end last season and a successful battle against relegation, Angus Gunn had established as Southampton’s first choice, after already impressing in a loan move to Norwich the previous season. Although his father and Norwich City legend, Bryan represented Scotland, Angus has featured in a couple of Gareth Southgate’s squad and if he plays a blinder this season, he may have enough to force himself into the squad on a more permanent basis.
6. Joe Hart
Hart has received a lot of criticism in recent years, some of it justified, some unfair. His axing from the England set up was long overdue, but there is no getting away from what this man has achieved. He was pivotal in Manchester City’s first two title wins and oversaw an unprecedented spell of glory at the club. It’s easy to forget how well he has done for club and country and would have been top of this list for a good few years in the early part of the decade. However, he is currently Burney’s second choice and isn’t in the England set-up, hence why he isn’t further up the list. He showed last season though that he is nothing a dying ember.
7. Dean Henderson
Another exciting youngster in this list. The Manchester United starlet spent last season on loan at Sheffield United, playing a pivotal role in their rise to the top division which prompted Chris Wilder to bring him in for his inaugural Premier League campaign. Just twenty-two years-old, plenty are raving about Henderson becoming the number one at Old Trafford once De Gea departs. Who knows, with another successful year at Brammall Lane, Henderson could be knocking on the door of the England squad.
8. Jack Butland
Perhaps a surprise inclusion this low down the list, but the fact of the matter is that Butland has not or certainly isn’t living up to his huge potential. Despite being included in the vast majority of England squads over the past couple of years, Butland hasn’t exactly matched his performances to the hype and there was even talk of him being dropped by Stoke ahead of and after their 3-0 defeat to Leeds on Saturday. Admittingly, his has been turned by talk of moves back to the Premier League, but at this moment in time his inclusion in the England squad would be undeserving. He still has time to live up to his potential, but he has to act fast.
9. Alex McCarthy
The second of two Southampton goalkeepers in this list (perhaps they’ll become the new Burnley). Pushed down the pecking order by Angus Gunn, McCarthy was Southampton’s first choice for much of last season until a 2-1 home defeat to Cardiff in February. McCarthy had made his England debut in a friendly against USA in the previous November, but Southampton’s flimsy defence and dreadful form, prompted Ralph Hasenhüttl to make a change. This is familiar territory for McCarthy as he was second string at both Crystal Palace and QPR previously. However, he is more than good enough for Gunn to be worried about his starting place should his form drop.
10. John Ruddy
Another international to add the list, Ruddy has been on the block for what seems like an eternity. Ruddy kept a clean sheet in his Premier League debut at Everton in 2006 and has been a custodian of the top two divisions ever since. He played a big part in Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League and last year’s FA Cup run but has ultimately been back up for Rui Praticio since their return. He has played in Wolves’ European Qualification campaign which clearly demonstrates that Nuno Santos still thinks the former Norwich man can still do a job.